Psychiatry and dictators

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
26,874
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#11
Behavioral psychology is absolutely fascinating. To apply it to history would be and is an interesting exercise. The problem I see is that [like when someone applies economics, sociology, math, statistics ... in a few words an exact science or a scientific doctrine] we need a comprehensive set of data. About some historical personages it's not that difficult to detect some areas of dysfunctional thoughts in their minds [but all? This is a bit more difficult], but in other cases I doubt we can know enough regarding the subject [overall if we go far in the past, having to rely on chronicles written by authors who made the individual "great" or "ignoble" according to their motivations].

Anyway it's always possible to build probable profiles.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,313
Netherlands
#12
Always fascinating to see how they can diagnose someone with at best 2nd hand observations, yet are unable to properly diagnose a convict under their observation.
 
Likes: tomar
Aug 2011
154
The Castle Anthrax
#13
Apparently psychopaths have career options other than brutal dictators. According to this,

the incidence of psychopathy among CEOs is about 4 percent, four times what it is in the population at large.

A really interesting question is whether psychopathy can be a positive thing. Some psychologists would say yes, that there are certain attributes like coolness under pressure, which is sort of a fundamental positive. But Robert Hare would always say no, that in the absence of empathy, which is the definition in psychology of a psychopath, you will always get malevolence.

Basically, high-scoring psychopaths can be brilliant bosses but only ever for short term. Just like Al Dunlap, they always want to make a killing and move on.


The article loses me here though;

...the way that capitalism is structured really is a physical manifestation of the brain anomaly known as psychopathy.

Spoken like a true psychopath.
 
Nov 2016
970
Germany
#14
Behavioral psychology is absolutely fascinating. To apply it to history would be and is an interesting exercise.
Behaviorism as a serious psychological theory has long since been obsolete. Its conception of man is mechanistic and cannot do justice to the realities of soul life, whereby the behaviorists either deny or ignore the existence of a soul or a human mind. But they also ignore the functioning of the brain, which is much more complex than a simple stimulus-reaction machine. Behaviorism has also not succeeded in transferring concepts such as intentional, deliberate, mean, hope, want, etc. into its own terminology, since these modes are not exactly recognizable to it.

Nor does it take into account the fact that certain behaviors, such as bipolar disorder, may be congenital to a certain degree. Many biographers of Marilyn Monroe, for example, believe that her mental illness (bipolar) can be explained by her stressful experiences in childhood. However, many other children were certainly exposed to much worse experiences without developing such a disorder. Therefore the conclusion is very obvious that her disorder was inherited as a disposition (MM's grandmother and mother were also psychologically severely disturbed at times). Behaviorism is not a suitable theory for such matters.

The same is true for said dictators and for any other human -- one cannot reduce behavior to simple stimulus-response schemes because man is far too complex a system to be reduced to something so primitive.

Always fascinating to see how they can diagnose someone with at best 2nd hand observations
However, it is possible to make analyses and diagnoses with a relevant probability if the biographical data of the person are known in sufficient detail.

yet are unable to properly diagnose a convict under their observation
For example?
 
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tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,765
#15
There are simpler explanations for Hitler's behavior (than convoluted pseudo scientific psycho babble)... They have to do with the stress of running a complex state, a complex bureaucracy, a complex war, a complex party and a complex group of people with different agendas and wants... including some who were clearly traitors and others who were waiting in the wings to take his place...This is simply an extremely complex and stressful task and Hitler really had no experience to rely on when he suddenly made it to the top (he had not even been -say- a mayor of an average town).

This in a context where Hitler was physically average, with less than average masculine beauty, not even german, not from the elites and generally considered an upstart... So he had to constantly prove himself to be worthy (or at least he probably thought so).... He probably had no one in whom he could really confide/complain and ask for advice (so evacuate some of his stress and get some help).... This stress increased as the years went by and as Germany (from 42) was clearly losing the war (plus suffering significant human losses) for which there was sure to be plenty of blame and that blame ultimately had to rest at the feet of the supreme leader.. The diversionnary tactic of blaming some generals or bureaucrats for some set backs could only go so far....

In such an environment, one would always be afraid to show weakness lest the pack of hyenaes around him would take that oportunity to pounce...
Such a stress would be very difficult to bear and is likely to drive most people "crazy" i.e drive them to take extreme actions....

Those in high stress jobs will probably understand at least partly (most high stress jobs do not involve the risk of one's life nor the level of complexity involved in running WW2 Germany)
 
Nov 2016
970
Germany
#16
There are simpler explanations for Hitler's behavior (than convoluted pseudo scientific psycho babble)... They have to do with the stress of running a complex state, a complex bureaucracy, a complex war, a complex party and a complex group of people with different agendas and wants..
And of course all this explains perfectly why Hitler established a sadistic police force and wanted to conquer the whole world, and why he had abstruse and partially perverse relationships with women and murdered millions of Jews.

Congratulations.
 
May 2017
1,128
France
#17
One of us speak about the obsession of Hitler to exterminate the jews and the bolsheviks.He mentionned Luther and Marx,both germans.This two authors have left books of a valor 100 % superior to the poor "Mein Kampf",a best seller, but an intellectual catastrof...
Luther has broken in two pieces the christianism and ridiculized the papacy.
Marx has broken in two pieces the capitalism and ridiculized in a lot of countries the power of the money.
I think their itinerary belong to the three big shoks of the humanity:The Christianism,the Reform,the Communism.....
But if Hitler believes that Luther has written his theological theories for him,and Marx his economical theories against him,it is the very clear demonstration of his doble hillness, megalomany and paranoia.
 
Nov 2016
970
Germany
#18
Luther and Marx,both germans.This two authors have left books of a valor 100 % superior to the poor "Mein Kampf",a best seller, but an intellectual catastrof...
Luther has broken in two pieces the christianism and ridiculized the papacy.
Martin Luther and antisemitism - Wikipedia

Quote:

The line of "anti-semitic descent" from Luther to Hitler is "easy to draw",[58] according to American historian Lucy Dawidowicz. In her The War Against the Jews, 1933–1945, she writes that both Luther and Hitler were obsessed by the "demonologized universe" inhabited by Jews, with Hitler asserting that the later Luther, the author of On the Jews and Their Lies was the real Luther.[58]

Dawidowicz writes that the similarities between Luther's anti-Jewish writings and modern antisemitism are no coincidence, because they derived from a common history of Judenhass, which can be traced to Haman's advice to Ahasuerus. Although modern German antisemitism also has its roots in German nationalism and Christian antisemitism, she argues that a foundation for this was laid by the Roman Catholic Church, "upon which Luther built".[58] Michael has argued that Luther scholars who try to tone down Luther's views on the Jews ignore the murderous implications of his antisemitism. Michael argues that there is a "strong parallel" between Luther's ideas and the antisemitism of most German Lutherans throughout the Holocaust.[59] Like the Nazis, Luther mythologized the Jews as evil, he writes. They could be saved only if they converted to Christianity, but their hostility to the idea made it inconceivable.[59]

Luther's sentiments were widely echoed in the Germany of the 1930s, particularly within the Nazi party. Hitler's Education Minister, Bernhard Rust, was quoted by the Völkischer Beobachter as saying that: "Since Martin Luther closed his eyes, no such son of our people has appeared again. It has been decided that we shall be the first to witness his reappearance ... I think the time is past when one may not say the names of Hitler and Luther in the same breath. They belong together; they are of the same old stamp [Schrot und Korn]".[60]

Hans Hinkel, leader of the Luther League's magazine Deutsche Kultur-Wacht, and of the Berlin chapter of the Kampfbund, paid tribute to Luther in his acceptance speech as head of both the Jewish section and the film department of Goebbel's Chamber of Culture and Propaganda Ministry. "Through his acts and his spiritual attitude, he began the fight which we will wage today; with Luther, the revolution of German blood and feeling against alien elements of the Volk was begun. To continue and complete his Protestantism, nationalism must make the picture of Luther, of a German fighter, live as an example 'above the barriers of confession' for all German blood comrades."[61]

According to Daniel Goldhagen, Bishop Martin Sasse, a leading Protestant churchman, published a compendium of Luther's writings shortly after Kristallnacht, for which Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church in the University of Oxford argued that Luther's writing was a "blueprint".[35] Sasse "applauded the burning of the synagogues and the coincidence of the day, writing in the introduction, "On November 10, 1938, on Luther's birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany." The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words "of the greatest antisemite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews."
[62]
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,313
Netherlands
#19
However, it is possible to make analyses and diagnoses with a relevant probability if the biographical data of the person are known in sufficient detail.
Considering how difficult it is to diagnose an actual real life person with observation and interviews, you cant come up with stuff like "psychopath" about someone you just saw some video about and read about.
For example?
Google for Michael Panhuis to take a notorious example from here. Rapist, under observation and treatment, yet was able to go out rape and kill a girl as he wasn't "a danger".
 
Likes: tomar

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,765
#20
And of course all this explains perfectly why Hitler established a sadistic police force and wanted to conquer the whole world, and why he had abstruse and partially perverse relationships with women and murdered millions of Jews.

Congratulations.
Strange comments.... Lets take those one by one

1. "sadistic" police force
You'd need to explain what you mean by "sadistic"... In any case the brutal Gestapo (if this is what you are referring to) was establshed by Goering... And was not "exceptional" in the sense that many other countries had similar police forces.... first and foremost the USSR's NKVD.... but not only... for example as late as the early 60s, french forces were "disappearing" or torturing algerian terror suspects.... and of course in the 2000s the US had a network of secret prisons, and was torturing people around the world (or having them tortured by their vassals).
So, nothing special

2. Conquer the whole world
No. That was not his plan.. He wanted "lebensraum" in the east... This came from a very simple observation.. all major powers of the time (France, UK, US, USSR) had access to about 10 mio square kilometers of territory or more... Germany had access to less than 1 mio. So a simple conclusion was that to be a great power, Germany needed its 10+ mio of square kilometers... Where could it get them ? Not on the moon... And since it was not a naval power, it needed continuous territory... So the only "feasible" large tract of land for Germany was in the east
Again, nothing special

3. Difficult relationship with women
This is real funny. MOST men have difficulty with women (and vice versa).
So nothing special

4. Murdered millions of jews
Hitler definitely had a major hatred of jews... Which in itself was not that unusual in Europe
What was most unusual though is the extermination program targeting the jews and other groups deemed "undesirable"
The link below makes the point that until June 1941 (start of Barbarossa) jews could still emigrate from Germany. Which means that something additional happened in or around 1941.. .After all Hitler had been in power for years, and had he just been a psychopath intent on killing jews he would not have waited that long to start the killing. Here the "psychiatric explanation" simply does not work



Who ordered the ‘Final Solution’? – The Holocaust Explained: Designed for schools

When did the Nazis decide to kill all the Jews of Europe? Was murder always in the mind of Adolf Hitler? These are some of the most difficult questions historians have to answer. Certainly, up until the invasion of the Soviet Union, Jews did manage to emigrate from Germany. Historians will never know precisely when the order for mass killing was given, but large-scale murders began with the invasion of Russia.

In January 1939, Reinhard Heydrich had received an order to solve “the Jewish question by means of emigration or evacuation in the most convenient way possible”.

This was upgraded on 31 July 1941, when Hermann Goering sent an order that Heydrich should make “all necessary preparations with regard to organisational, practical and financial aspects for an overall solution to the Jewish question”. Heydrich was to “submit an overall plan… for the execution of the intended ‘Final Solution’ of the Jewish question”.

Although Goering had given the order, Hitler had approved it. He also allowed the use of the railway system to transport Jews from Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany to occupied Poland and the Soviet Union.
 
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